Guidelines to curb disability discrimination at work are riddled with loopholes and could be abused by employers, support groups say. The code of practice was released by the Equal Opportunities Commission last week. 'There are loopholes people will take advantage of, which will lead to the ordinance not being implemented,' general secretary of the Hong Kong Physically Handicapped and Able-Bodied Association, Pauline Tong Fung-kwan, said. She referred to a section on 'unjustifiable hardship' where companies' employment decisions might be discriminatory, but could be justified. 'It seems to be biased towards employers in some ways,' she added. The code of practice says: 'Employment decisions that would otherwise be discriminatory may be justifiable if a person, who would otherwise qualify for the job, requires adjustments which would impose unjustifiable hardship on the employer. 'An individualised assessment must be made for each claim of unjustifiable hardship.' Ms Tong said: 'The main point we want to make is that suitable disabled persons will be considered [for a job] on their abilities and employers should provide the necessary access to facilitate them. The arguing point is that employers always say they have hardship.' Chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Handicapped Youth, Karen Mak Kam-king, said the code needed to emphasise that bosses must make adjustments at the workplace. 'If it's not accessible, the employer has to make reasonable adjustments,' she said. She also voiced concern over a section of the code relating to employment decisions on the grounds of appearance. Decisions to employ someone where the 'essential nature of the job calls for authenticity in appearance' could be abused by bosses. This would cover jobs which would be materially different if carried out by someone with a disability, for example actors and models. 'We are worried this could be abused by employers saying some of the people's looks don't meet requirements,' Ms Mak said. However, Equal Opportunities Commissioner Dr Fanny Cheung Mui-ching said: 'The code is open for consultation and we welcome recommendations.' With regard to employers' hardship, she said: 'They have to prove that this is genuine, they can't just say it.' And on the question of appearance, she added: 'They can't give a conventional excuse.'